Every winter, for 11 days in early July, the sleepy South African college town of Grahamstown comes alive with art. Artists from all over the world swarm to the tiny town, and every nook and cranny is packed with theatre, dance, performance art, film, comedy puppets and face paint with the sweet sounds of jazz spilling onto the streets. The National Arts Festival, that celebrated its 40th anniversary this year, is the second biggest arts festivals in the world. For the last couple of years, a group of journalism students at Rhodes University cover the festival through a pop-up newsroom called CueTube, where they interview a variety of artists, choreographers and directors. Here’s some samples of the work.
Sara Baartman was taken from South Africa and shipped to London to be exhibited as the Hottentot Venus, to be ogled for her African physique. CARGO: Precious is a dance collaboration between producer Georgina Thomson, Sylvaine Strike, PJ Sabbagha, Concord Nkabinde and Fana Tshbalala to portray the journey of the young Saartjie Baartman.
Local Jazz Muso Kyle Shepherd delivers
Jazz pianist, Kyle Shepherd talks about his music, his background and and the state of Jazz in South Africa.
Jazz Legend Louis Moholo-Moholo
The last of the legendary The Blue Notes, Louis Moholo-Moholo performs at the National Arts Festival for his first time. Born in Cape Town, he lived in London for most of his life as exile during the Apartheid era. Moholo-Moholo is extremely passionate about jazz and talks about the current state of South African jazz. He performs here with the 2014 Standard Bank Young Artist for Jazz, Kyle Shepherd, as well as previous winners of this award.
Report by Cindy Archillies, Megan Flemmit, Deneesha Pillay
Unraveling the mysteries of Islam
Bismillah and Salaam Stories two theater productions that delve into Islamic identity. The former depicts a father ritually preparing his son’s body for burial, while the latter production dramatises a selection of stories. Both directors reject westernized representations of the faith and illuminate its fundamental aspects to audiences at the National Arts Festival.
Marikana The Musical
Aubrey Sekhabi’s explosive new production, based on the Marikana Massacre of 2012 is adapted from the book ‘We Are Going To Kill Each Other Today — The Marikana Story’. This powerful musical gives names and faces to those who lost their lives during the massacre.
Hasan and Husain Essop’s Unrest
Twins, Hasan and Husain Essop, talk to us about winning the Standard Bank Young Artist Award for 2014 before delving into their latest exhibition, ‘Unrest’. Rooted in Cape Town, the twins explore various forms of unrest in Cape Town, touching on themes of violence, gang warfare and identity.